Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 14, 2011 7:30am-9:00am EDT

7:30 am
his book. and so i'm very interested in changing the playing field. and putting more power back into the hands of communities and ordinary people, of businesses that try to play by the rules, not break the rules. that's very, very hard to do when you have mammoth institutions that have a cause arounaround the economic lifeblf this country. and a lot of figures in washington just are not strong enough to stand up to them. and you can see the results of it. >> tell us what you're reading this summer. send us a tweet at booktv. steve early examines the current organizing strategies and structures of many labor unions in the united states. he also reports on internal conflicts of 2008-2010 that according to the author hurt union reputations and angered supporters. this is about an hour and 20
7:31 am
minutes. >> i want to thank everybody for coming out here tonight. i want to thank the bus boys teen. and it is great teen. in which tonight includes christine taylor from booktv and c-span. i want to thank her for doing the video were. it's going to make the proceedings a little more formal than when we're at the 14th and did an open number with a microphone floating around and many of question period. going to talk about 50 men so they get something, and then we will have to do the questions union convention style. you'll have to line up at the mic back and you're not going to get a chance to speak unless you see the green light go on. i have my figure -- finger on that control. but i hope that when we get to the question period, it will be lively. i know it will be. this to labor series that
7:32 am
busboys and poets has initiated i believe was an event involving barbara. how many came to hear barbara last week? one barbara fan in the house. is an important addition to the local level -- local labor community. it's no coincidence that don allen, busboys manager is so committed to putting on programming that's going to enable us to showcase labor related books, films, cultural events. hopefully photography civics. don allen is the son of a striker, 30 years ago this summer was fired along with 12,000 of his coworkers. and growing up in that kind of them and having that kind of experience can be formative, to say the least so want to thank them again for the opportunity to be here tonight. i did some quick calculations of who is in the room. and particularly with all my old
7:33 am
friends from cwi and some of the unions represent i was a republic have about 1500-2000 years worth of experience here in labor lawyer in. labor organize, labor education, labor committee coalition building and just plain old labor troublemaking. so i know that with this wealth of experience we will have a great discussion. among a very special guest i want to introduce worst is one of the courageous nurses at washington hospital center who went out on strike last friday. [applause] >> if you could stand up. [applause] >> hopefully gm is not here, and now of the national nurses
7:34 am
united. she can talk a little bit more about the issues involved in that strike. readers of the hard copy of the "washington post" will notice i'm sure that the washington hospital center is spending tens of thousands of dollars telling the folks in this community how much they care about patient care and the quality of the care they provide, money that would be better spent a green to the unions recent proposals are merged patient staffing ratios and other improvements that they need in the contract as our ends, the people who use the hospital. we had another strike last week with similar significance, 1200 nurses in los angeles. last wednesday a group that others in this room have worked with. they are members of the new
7:35 am
national union of health care workers are there some contribution envelope for the union and an update on the activity in recent months. this is an important new addition to the labor movement in california. and is subject of much of this new book, civil wars. i want to thank a couple of other cosponsors, labor notes which has been helping me out at every stop of this book to but i want to thank my host here in washington, d.c., sister linda foley. where is linda? [applause] >> always quick to push me up when other people would have me slipping and west potomac park. linda, as many of you know, is a former member of the cwa international executive board and past president of my old union, the newspaper guild. i also want to recognize and thank for their cosponsorship and turnout here tonight, the
7:36 am
vice president, national vice president of the national writers union, uaw. and current union affiliation. [applause] and i want to also thank of course my publisher haymarket, and recognize a great fellow who is right here in front, dave, who many of you -- [applause] , if you are sports fans know is the most knowledgeable and incisive left commentator in amateur sport a great new movie out, whole series of books, and also haymarket author. this little civil wars book tour got started last week with events in hartford and my hometown of boston, an amherst massachusetts and cleveland last weekend. last night we had an event in a city of macon and the baltimore orioles, at a little place
7:37 am
called red and this which is a radical bookstore downtown. i have a souvenir to prove that i was there. maybe busboys needs to invest in a hoodie like this. how many people here -- i know inside the beltway book audiences tend to be a little more that and up, a little more straightlaced, how many people here have been to read evans? i miss read my audience. i take it all back. it's good to see it's no longer a mccarthy era and people are willing to frequent an anarchist bookstore, a great bunch of people connected to a keypress and other progressive publishers. unlike busboys and all network of independent bookstores around the country, places that we need to patronize as many people clearly do here. because if we don't, what will we have left? it just seems barnes & noble. seems borders may soon not be
7:38 am
much of a place to buy books at. we had a great group of activists at this red evans event last night, and one of them was an earnest young men from the sociology club at towson state college. and knowing that i was in mixed company and not everybody was necessarily up to speed on our bewildering array of acronyms that with around in the labor movement, i was spelling everything out. did want to leave any non-inside, young or old, completely baffled by the alphabet soup groups that were all part of. and i started making the international brotherhood of teamsters several times, like a stock about the great campaign for the presidency and the ibt. and this young man from towson state got very puzzled. i could see it in his face. highly he raised his hand and he said, what's a teamster? well, you know, being a
7:39 am
rapidfire answer i said they are truckers and work for ups and handle packages and work in warehouses and i rattle off a long list and then i realized that's not what he was asking. and i thought to myself, he has every right to be mystified, right? he was about 20, but it just shows how last century it is that we have an occupation from the previous century, probably future of this one of our largest american unions. and how last century it is to young people and how, probably, quite offputting to them that in 2011 that union is still projected as a brotherhood rather than a brotherhood and a sisterhood. when it in fact represents
7:40 am
400,000 women workers, one of whom is his sister sandy pope will will hopefully be its next international president. and as we know a number of unions with brotherhood in the name, have grappled with this question of possibly come up with a more gender-neutral or gender equal name, one of them even acknowledges the existence of the recent invention of electricity, right? ibew. anyway, this is kind of a slap. it almost made me a convert to a more modern 21st century thinking kind of guy. our friend andy stern is now over at georgetown, a visiting professor. the represented as you may represented as you may recall when presents cat food commission and a viable new member of the board of directors of the drug company i love you notice that brother and he is
7:41 am
also president of the americas of seiu, gave an interview at "newsweek" this week in which he said, and i quote, day, that's us, unions, seem like a legacy institution and not an institution of the future you. see how retirement kind of distances you from us. the us is not them, and and is i don't know where. anyway, this kind of tracks the thinking of many people in corporate america in firms like general electric, which brother chris townsend has pleasure to deal with, verizon, who continually try to consign us to the past, rhetorically at least with their constant repetition and references to legacy contracts and legacy benefits. the latter of which we are now
7:42 am
told are no longer affordable anywhere in the country in either of the private or the public sector. where some things seem to be headed and told those cheeseheads got into the act out there in cairo by the lake in wisconsin. brother bob aleman, university of wisconsin. bob was just out there. a great young journalist just returned from essence of google gets reports from the front a little bit later from bob and the mic and anybody else -- anybody else been out there? david, chris, okay. we've got a whole bunch of out of state cheerleaders. when i see on the internet is now called the chatter revolution. let me just say that the chedder revolution has been a bit of a boom on the book tour. the folks at haymarket, even though they have been saddled with a name from two centuries
7:43 am
ago, came up with the subtitle, birth of a new workers union or death throes of the old? very savvy market because it enables me if things were going well for the labor movement, answer questions and book events and using that to well rather gloomily on the subject of organizational death and dying, or if events broke our way as they have in the last month, focus more happen on the prospects of the rebirth of the labor movement. someone to just say a few words about what's been so exciting, particularly for those of adverse involvement in it, about the upsurge in madison. talk a little bit about some of the subject matter overlaps with the book, which was finished up before this great development occurred. and then open it up for question
7:44 am
because we have a lot of folks you i know you who want to contribute to the discussion. clooney won the of the most exciting things about the events in madison, and the kind of relates to how do we reach people like that young fellow from towson state who not sure what a teamster is, but who we need if we're going to be something of the and a geriatric culture as a labor movement. if we are going to tap into the youthful energy and enthusiasm and idealism of young people. and clearly any account this struggle has paid tribute to the leading all of high school students, college students and teaching assistants who are the vanguard of the struggle, members of the union that brother bob founded nearly 40 years ago in madison as an outgrowth of the '60s activism. the fact that they did not take
7:45 am
a business as usual approach to lobbying, and we all know what that is -- how many people have been on a union lobby day to some state capital? tends to be highly ritualistic. it tends to involve being polite and having talking points prepared by the union staff and showing up on time for appointments with our betters in a clinical clash in tipping our hand and hoping for the best. l., these folks had a lobby day and they brought their sleeping mats and they didn't leave at five. they occupied the state capital just like it was an administration building in madison, circa 1969. and they stayed for days and weeks. and that galvanized as we've seen older workers, in the teachers, on the faculty and most significantly for the kind of unity that we need to rebuild the labor movement, workers and the private sector.
7:46 am
my friends in the ibew who work in madison gas and electric, the building trades, workers probably saw that picture in the globe today, a plumber holding up a sign still out there in madison yesterday supporting public workers. within the public workers under attack by governor walker, one of the number of republican workers as we know going after public employees in the midwest. it would've been easy for the cops and firefighters, unfortunately to back this guy last fall to have opted out of the struggle and, in fact, we've seen the very opposite, particularly the firefighters but also the police. expressing very strong support for the teachers, the state workers, the county and municipal workers who are all going to be affected by this attempt to strip public sector wisconsin workers of their bargaining rights. at the bottom tier of the public sector in wisconsin, and other
7:47 am
states, and this is something i do write about quite a bit in the book, you know, we have a larger source of newly organized union members who are also at risk in fees struggles in wisconsin, in ohio, and indiana and states like new jersey where our friends come out of the public sector in new jersey, is here tonight and the cwa vice president, had a huge rally up in trenton. they are confronted with that charming fella, chris christie, i don't know if you saw his mug on the sunday times magazine a week or two ago. the guy has a voracious appetite for a number of things. contract concessions are among them. but in new jersey and all these other states, cwa, ask me, the ua to become all the lead have organize in total five, 600,000 home-based workers, home health care aecom home day care providers, the last 10 years
7:48 am
biggest source of new union membership and have gained a very precarious foothold in the public sector for these workers who work in nontraditional workplaces, predominately female, nonwhite, often immigrant workers, many as in the case of our joint bargaining unit childcare providers in new jersey with afscme still trapped in the post-clinton world of work there. and so lost in this debate, if you can call it that, some media outlets about the overpaid benefit loudoun, privileged protected, pampered public sector employees, the fact that there is a huge underclass only recently organized the second tier of recently, who are losing their rights and contract protections. the case in ohio with the stroke
7:49 am
of a pen, destroy. some big group of home health care aides at risk in wisconsin and so on in other states. so within the public sector at all levels of the occupational sector, workers are coming together, aligned with students with the community, with what remains a private sector union activism to fend off these attacks. one of the things that i think is most inspiring facing the bottom up solidarity, seeing the rank-and-file initiative, seeing the cross union networking, seeing people voicing their opposition to these attacks on collective bargaining, through mass actions that we haven't seen since public employees first got organized in the
7:50 am
'60s and '70s, and industrial workers had a great upsurge in the 1930s. the question of course is going to be how to institutionalize that, how do the activist networks that are hopefully being created by these mobilizations in the midwest and elsewhere survive. win and if some other unions to lose bargaining rights, and that's i think a challenging topic for conversation tonight. let me just say i think we would've been in a stronger position to fend off these attacks if we had not had the string of costly disasters and divisive intra- union conflicts described. that story, it's a sad one, begins with the conflict between seiu and afscme over home care or chris and number of states of 2005. it moves on to the raging battles between the california nurses, who are now the anchor for national nurses united and
7:51 am
seiu, and health care facilities in a number of states including california, nevada, ohio. the development of a reform movement, challenging the leadership of seiu which i personally felt was a very long overdue and healthy development in 2008, led by our good friend the president that health care workers west, the third largest seiu affiliate, 150,000 member local and very dynamic, the kind of organization in the union certainly see that a would have loved to have as part of its union. when he which w. with the help of a number of people in this room begin to network, we can to build a broader teamsters for democratic union style reform caucus within seiu, challenge the leadership the san juan convention from puerto rico in 2008.
7:52 am
they essentially set the stage for leadership cracked down, the imposition quite literally of martial law two years ago in california. the leaders removed 100 elected leaders of you which w., basically occupied the local, removed hundreds of stewards and the second largest in u.s. labor history. at the same time, even though they were both part of the dynamic new labor federation known as change to win, seiu turned its guns on a tonight year. particularly the hotel side of that fellow founding union change to win. unleashing another whole front of civil warfare, while all this is going on on the mainland here of course you have seiu attack attack on the puerto rican teachers. three years ago 40,000 teachers
7:53 am
went out on an island wide strike under the draconian public sector laws that affected puerto rico. the union was decertified, stripped of its bargaining rights. when it took a strike vote. the then governor of puerto rico refused to bargain any further to strike out a lot of support in puerto rico page was over the critical issue of privatization of the schools. and seiu which represents schools superintendents and principals and other school employees was well-positioned to provide solidarity. instead of doing that, dennis and other leaders of seiu tried to cut a deal with this been indicted governor to replace, the whole seiu convention 2008 in puerto rico is designed to build a campaign. the fmp are was excluded from the ballot when he was a vote on
7:54 am
this question in fall 2008, the puerto rican teachers resound we voted no, rejected as he i use raid and thousand of them still pay dues voluntary to the fmpr which continues to struggle on, not to have it restored its bargaining rights. so this whole series of intra- and inter- union conflicts which i estimate resulted in the expenditure of about $140 million when you add up the costs of all those involved. came at a very inopportune moment. it came at the moment that we were told in fall 2008 was going to be pregnant with political opportunity. the first two years the obama administration when we would achieve our first two highest award, real health care reform, and strengthening of the national labor relations act, the passage of free choice act. i argue i think with considerable evidence that both of those critical campaigns were very much undermined by the internal dysfunction and the
7:55 am
civil war to scribe in the group. some which have been settled, happened in the case of the continuing successful collaboration now between cna and in india and seiu within health care corporation of america. last few months in kansas, in florida, and texas, the two unions working together ran in fighting each other are organized close to 10,000 rns and other hospital workers. yet in california the struggle goes on between them, continues to be very costly and in puerto rico the 12 leaders of the fmpr, the militant socials present of the union were all justified from the jobs, their teaching licenses revoked in direct retaliation for their having been strike leaders in 2008, and
7:56 am
continued to wage a very militant struggle against school privatization in puerto rico ever since. hopefully we'll be seeing a big fmpr delegation in a few weeks in new york and there will be continued operation to provide the kind of solidarity that group needs and deserves. so let me close by saying i think the lessons of the debacle of the implosion of the progressive, was described to us, what many of us thought was the progressive wing of labor, 2008, 2009, 2010, it is almost like what not to do if you want to win against hostile action hostile employers. at best, a democratic administrators only casually interested in dancing with the cost of labor. and certainly if we and the private sector had not been so distracted, deeply and health care, food service, hotels and
7:57 am
the public school system in puerto rico with these battles unfolded, during that period, and we have built the kind of grass-roots movement that we have seen develop in the midwest in the public sector in response to these recent attacks, we would have been much closer in 2008 and 2092 real health care reform. afscme would not have been sidelined and marginalized and pushed aside. perhaps we wouldn't have had to wipe out a supposed friends of labor by the republicans last fall. as part of our working class backlash against the visit of the obama administration, to achieve so much that we hoped it would when so many people in this room, and throughout the labor movement, campaign to elect president obama in the fall 2008. so why don't we stop there, threw it open. i think everybody for coming and
7:58 am
again apologize to the format for having to approach the mic, but i don't know many people in this room are used to doing that and have done so effectively over the years and much more daunting circumstances. [applause] >> would you like to lead off by telling us all that more about what happened on friday? [applause] >> good evening, everyone. i'm one of the nurses at washington hospital center who went on strike on friday and we've been locked out for about five days. we're going to be allowed to go back to work tomorrow. thanks to the attorneys at the hospital but that was to give to us to allow us to come back to work tomorrow. on friday we all went on strike at the nurses that decide to go on strike went on strike about 7 a.m. in the morning. and we proceeded to pick it around the hospital. they called in the d.c. police. it was very hostile.
7:59 am
the police at the hospital were very hostile and pushing us and making sure we could me close to the hospital. but we got a lot of support from the comedic we had a rally about noontime and we had support from a lot of different unions in the city and it was very encouraging to us to see that people to support us as nurses and support article and a drive to make sure the biggest hospital in the city provides safe patient care. on all the hospital is trying to put out to the committee it's just about money, it's not about money. to us it is a part of a contract but at the end of the day we truly need more nurses at the hospital to ensure that we provide a great year. and although we're going back to work tomorrow and we do not have a contract settled, we are still going to continue to fight and continue to rally as much support as we can to ensure that washington hospital center finishes this contract and implement the things we need in order to have safe patient care at the hospital.
8:00 am
[applause] >> is arthur fox still here or did he have to leave? arthur? [inaudible] [inaudible] los..
8:01 am
>> decades and did some great work on behalf of the battles involving the abuse of international powers and other violations of the land of griffin act. arthur? [applause] >> all right. we have somebody approaching the
8:02 am
mike or or -- david. >> yeah, my name is david, i'm here from seattle, i flew in for a postal workers conference, or union, today i got all dressed up and my fellow postal workers, we visit the house of ill repute. after which we went to the senate. [laughter] >> so my question is -- sort of a comment. i guess the big deal about the change in the labor movement around the emergence of, you know, john sweeney, that election back many years ago and andy stern becoming a big leader and sciu was the whole realization that labor had organized. real basic idea. organize, organize, organize, sciu was admired from afar. they did organize lots of workers. somehow, somewhere things went
8:03 am
wrong. how did it go wrong? what was wrong with the model? is it maybe -- some unions tend to be heavily staff based. the staff are the people that might be bright college kids who are progressive and eager and they are well intentioned, but they don't have a base, maybe may have never done the job or maybe they don't trust the workers to organize themselves and they organize and move on. i remember debate over that kind of model of organization. is that what went wrong? if you are a staff person, you are no political power. you can't say, hey, this is wrong. or you are fired and have to get a job somewhere else. i'm wondering is where did sciu go wrong? was it a false promise to start with, is it a bad model? just throwing it out there for your thoughts. >> excellent questions. thank you, david. david is on the policy committee of notes. long time activist and postal
8:04 am
union in seattle, great and unexpected visitor. i've never seen you look so spiv if i. did you bring your sleeping bag on this adventure? ones that haven't been addressed, other people have had been involved to organize campaigns, leverage campaigns, designs, neutralized, and a lot of different industries have had to grapple. what are the appropriate tradeoffs between density and democracy. what are the quid pro quid pro t we should agree to in return for getting the employer like accident a t & t wireless or kaiser or tenant or hotel chain to give us a free and fair election or car check or some form of neutrality.
8:05 am
what are they looking for? what kind of contract? are they going to have any opportunity after getting the foothold to improve. so they are going to be looked into a rethreat deal that strips them of any voice in the workplace, but does generate revenue for the union that partnered with the employee and made the deal. a lot of strategy, which i argued in the book, doubled up and compelled a lot of these interunion conflicts that i just mentioned. brother david? >> hey, steve. first of all, thank you for writing this book. it was a much needed discussion. i was in madison for five days, life-changing experience if there was one. no other reason to see the contingent of 30 ten-year-old with a banner that said put
8:06 am
scotty in the potty. i'll never forget. [laughter] >> i have a couple of questions. first, the people of madison, the workers of wisconsin have been heroic over the last several weeks. how do you assess and rate the actions of the union leadership at that point? and the second question that i have is i was talking with brother chris townsend about if you look at the republican governors association, versus the democratic governors association web site. and the rga web site is like support scott walker, befend scott walker. you go to dga and there's no mention of wisconsin on the home page. and it's a shocking contrast. and my question is is part of the problem is that the labor movement invests hundreds of millions of dollars in a political party that seeing them as best as an annoyance, and at worst as something to be held in
8:07 am
contempt. >> people are going to be begin to think these questions are orchestrated. this is a service that you've heard of, solidarity among workers, solidarity among authors. i go to days on end, throw out some softball questions. you are not going to go out and tweet -- i'm sorry. alex? i want to hear another report from madison. then just to say on madison for a minute, if i want to response of what's the union leadership up to. you are just out there. perhaps you could report on it. >> report. >> to the meeting as you've been reporting for a number of other outlets. >> yeah, first off, i want to say steve, this is incredibly courageous book. it's tough book to write. anybody that's a labor journalist, you start getting bashed as a left wing union buster. i want to say that. >> i have heard that accusation in the last four years. [laughter] >> the incredible there's, there's a article at the
8:08 am
greenhouse in the "new york times" the other day, we're going to use the momentum from wisconsin to organize a dozen of labor opportunities. the wisconsin tide is going to help us organize walmart. he write the incredible level. you take levels of labor, up from academic, to ranking foul, to local levels. and you really see the labor movement is not jerry mcinntee making a statement, or new add coming out. but it's really getting 12 people to come to a meeting and all of these parts coming together. why do you think so many reports like steven greenhouse are so lazy and awful about the dynamics of reporting are. this is especially important coming out of madison. because the story has been this was something organized by the afl and by the aft there.
8:09 am
while they played a big role, the membership got out ahead. we are seeing this as part of the anti-confession movement. question that might tie into that. >> real quick. i'm sorry for letting these guys jump. i'm not a greenhouse fan. i liked his book. a lot of his reporting stinks in my view. because he is too oriented towards talking to people at the top. talking to talking heads in academia who has not been involved in organizing for 35 years if they ever were. never handled a grievance, never handled a contract. part of what he's operating with is the constraint of mainstream journalism. part of it is his own tendency to frame things badly, his own kind of elitist timesman bias. he does have problems with the editors. he was terrible on "talk of the nation" the other day. this was not an written article. i know if you heard him, in a
8:10 am
discussion of pension, the terrible problem of the over pensioned public worker, announced that many public workers, he was referring to wisconsin, retire with more than $100,000 a year. many. now i ran from my radio to the kick dictionary and looked up the word many and asked him for statistical cooperation. then i sent him an article from tom, you know, respected academic, labor studies guy who has done research, which greenhouse didn't do. which showed that the median pension was about $24,000 a year, and only 2% retire with more than $100,000 a year. primarily, you know, people in management jobs, not even in union bargaining units, political appointees, police chiefs, a few over time hogs,
8:11 am
maybe pension spiking. again, i forwarded this relevant information to brother greenhouse. we are dissing a fellow member here. i've complained about him to the public editor. his coverage of the kaiser campaign last fall was terrible, his coverage of past telecom conflicts has been really shoty. you know, bill sarin, one of his predecessors to put a more positive spin, he would go out, cover strikes, talk to the workers. he understand the that labor movement was bigger than andy, john, and bruce. or john sweeney or whoever else, you know, greenhouse picks up the phone and talks to. he doesn't talk to enough workers. occasionally comes through. out of the blue he did an interesting article about the jimmy john's campaign. what they were going cofast food
8:12 am
workers. before he comes back to some of the questions that david raised, alex. you have to -- you won't be on booktv if you don't approach the mike. >> you never told us what a teamster was. >> it's a guy that cracks a whip. a team of horses. >> today is international womens day. >> yeah. >> and that provoked me question. the vibrancy in organizing seems to me and part of the wars have taken place in the health care industry. which many people regard health care as a drain on the economy. i regard say health care is the economy. it's the growing and sustained industry. you may disagree with it's funding, everything about it,
8:13 am
but nevertheless, it is. and my guess is that a lot of of the -- there are two reasons why this is happening. one is because it is a growth industry. unlike some of the other ones. but the other is the prominence and activism of women within that role. to what extent, i looked in the book. i didn't have a chance to look at it while i was reading my sandwich. i did look at the index. it doesn't mention women by word nor race. to what extent do those things play in the civil war that you described. >> certainly the work force was involved in home based child care and home health care aid organizing. it's predominantly female for care providers. nursing home workers, and female
8:14 am
hospital workers in california some of the leaders of the nuhw, breakaway union was created and was invoiced two years ago. women think, you know, there are profiles to encourage -- female profiles encouraged throughout the book. they help the book and help build up the counseling and nurses association, build relationships with enough state nurses organization, the nurses organization here in d.c. to create nnu. roseanne is very outspoken in the recent weeks about what strategy the labor movement should adopt, vis-a-vis, the demands for concessions in the public sector. we have a bit of a difference of
8:15 am
opinion because those who are just going to, you know, breathe a sigh of relief for bargaining rights, but willing to give away the score to do that. right, as long as we still have the check off and we are serious, you know, problems with the strategy of endless concession bargaining. it did not end up in a good place in the private sector. when that was seen as a survival strategy back in the 1980s, and meat packing and so on down the line. so it's good to see again a woman and a union leader challenge the conventional wisdom that's expressed by brother in the "wall street journal" the other day what we need is shared sacrifice. i noticed that he's not offering to share the sacrifices that's been imposed on steve shapiro.
8:16 am
he's not offering to have a two year pay freeze or pay more for his pension or health care. so i think he should be more cautious about proposing that as a labor strategy. i think framing the messages is deeply flawed. bob, you are the health care expert. one of many in the room. do you want to speak to the question of health care, why it became the battle ground? you are shaking your head. a rare out burst of shyness on the part of brother mullencamp. >> i have a question specifically about your book. i haven't read it yet, but i'd like to. it has to do if you focused only on unions that were part of the afl-cio, i raise this because fg, the american figuration of federal employees is involved in a huge campaign right now to represent transportation safety officers and the tsa. and the national treasury
8:17 am
employees union has come in very late to vie for that -- for those workers. and i want to know if your research spoke to that at all. specifically because it's one the unions that really having growing in the face of lots of unions dying. >> terrific question. maybe the brothers here would want to speak to that. this is a very important representation election. if we can add amidst the carnage, in the union of their choice, and i personal performance, but it'll be afg seems to have more support in logan and boston and psa and folks that i've talked to and limited traveling that i've done. it's not involved in the book, other than to acknowledge the obama administration did make some changes in the national
8:18 am
mediation board election rule that is have supposedly made it easier for us to win elections in the airline industry and that this tsa long over due representation election was going to be coming this year. it is unfortunate, again, when suddenly there's not the major growth. and this is many years coming. this is the work force created in 2002, 2003 that suddenly there is a union competition. you know, on the other hand, i must say that in some of these situations, having a choice, you know, it's not always a waste of resources. you know, if you really believe in employee free choice, it should be a right, and it is a right under law that could be exercised not just once, you know, when you make your first choice of the union, and then you are stuck with it, whether it proves to be responsible and effective or not. it's something that people
8:19 am
should have the opportunity to exercise more frequently over time. as a tool. for making sure that the union they are paying dues to properly represents them. i know it's a radical idea. a lot of people think that jurisdiction should be strictly followed. once you are in a union. the rules are tilted this way. you could not be aloud to go to an independent union. there's a lot of independent, treasury, united electrical workers, new the national union workers, obviously the nea is still independent. one the booths that i worked with in canada back in the late 1980s that came into cwa with the merger of the union was a providencewide union in quebec. civil wars was printed in one of their shops, which was part of the communication energy and
8:20 am
paper workers. and in quebec during that period, i was really struck by how much more on the ball the unions were. because you had two or three competing federations, contracts were shorter duration, you didn't have to wait three or five years to leave or petition for a vote to leave. if you were happy with your incumbent union representative and workers got their phone calls returned. the business agents came out and worked with the stewards in bargaining. because they knew if they were not responsive to the rank and file members of the payers, member of the qfl, csn, third federation, there's a lot of hopping around. and that was an important tool to rank and file the power. which i think we lacked in many union context today. a different perspective on what's demonized as rating, when, in fact, the other
8:21 am
person's rate is another workers liberation. >> i just want to put the thought that somebody brought up the international day. i wanted to put the plug for small foundations involved. one the things that we do at the berger marx foundation, we do provide funds to hire women organizers for a period of time. if you are interested in doing that, check out our web site at i just wanted to make that plug. but i also wanted to comment that a lot of labor war, certainly not what happened in california or what happened in puerto rico. a lot of labor wars are right here inside the beltway. i like many people in this room, i'm sure, worked in 2008 on the ground in the election campaign where everybody came together. you know, to elect barack obama. and it didn't seem like there
8:22 am
were those divisions, and so maybe you could just comment a little bit about how much of this is kind of slowing from an inside the beltway jockeying for, you know, what is viewed as a shrinking pie in terms of members. you know, who gets what's members. and i think that really is at the heart of this. is that, you know, these unions are struggling and they are looking for, you know, they are struggling with money, they are struggling with membership, and they are looking for easy guess and they are looking for, you know, how can we, you know, maintain the level of service and power that we have. and so i think a lot of it flows like from inside the beltway out. maybe you can just comment on that aspect of the civil wars and labor. >> well, one the things i do talk about in the book, in the carpet about the fatal entanglement of fca and
8:23 am
obamacare as i call it. i know we are not supposed to have use that term. the entitlement of fca and pcca don't have the same ring. they did with the national labor coordinating committee which was an attempt to create a united front which was the first year of the obama administration, nine or ten of the largest unions changed to win afl and the independent aa. that effort founded over time pip i think it was a result of flcio over shadowed by the protected structure, that would have involved a pooling of resources for political action purposes and the idea seems to have been revived in new form. the labor table formation which we've been reading about in the last couple of weeks as an inside the beltway response to the public sector prices and
8:24 am
seems to be a version of the national labor coordination strategy of at least pooling money for coordinated political work around what to bargaining rights. you know, my own experience, i'm a hard core left send chris. i think it has to be built from the bottom up. i had the privilege to be involved in 25 years in creating a strong tie between ibw represented workers in england, cwa members within what was originally new york and came nymex and atlantic and the monster verizon. it strikes during bargaining and we were able to accomplish things that would never have been, could never have been dictated from the top.
8:25 am
getting together with the ibw and vice versa. these things have been to be organic. they have to be based on relationships at the level that ignore the difference between brand x and brand y, which basically is about why the difference is with the unions in terms of how they actually function. workers themselves, local elected leaders, stewards can get in the leaderships between the campaigns that really feel more like a workers movement. what we've seen in madison. doesn't look like people in madison are marching in line with the respective union colors. looks like they are all measured together; right? in the way the labor movement should. people are not thinking i'm a member of the cwa, or smeared sciu. it's about us and what we can accomplish by fighting together. so i think the response of the
8:26 am
clc is around the country to the terrible afl at the top of 2005, and a lot of people are very worried about what happened. people at both levels seem to have more sense, valued long term relationships, solidarity charter mechanism was developed and it was actually in most places relatively little to be expected or feared disruption of the labor unity, regardless of what the people did here and they are working together or not. let's hear from some other folks, any other topics that we seem to be missing. brother here. >> dr. gruenberg from the newspaper guild. one the few lay borrow workers in the audience. there's one thing the labor movement really lacks. we are spread all over the lot. we get involved in every single
8:27 am
cause known to man. and we don't have a unifying plea. as much as i hate to quote him, bridge trumka on pbs the other night articulated and said you shouldn't have to choose between your rights and your job. now that's -- turn that around and make it positive. we're working for the rights. first of all, do you agree that unifying being? and second do you treat it in the book? >> yeah, in the book i try to provide some examples of how we need to phrase our issues and project our fighting to avoid being so easily targeted as this shrinking island of relative privilege. when we had our big ibwcwa telephone strike at nymex in 1989, 60,000 members of the
8:28 am
union out for two months. even back then, the fact that there was no premium workers, which is what management wanted and have yet to get to this day, we knew how it would look to other workers that are paying through the noise. how did the paychecks and plus much larger deductibles and co-payments. we phrased that fight as a fight for health care for all. not for nymex. and we built alliances for national health, jesse jackson, anybody else that was out there fighting, we used the strike through education around the issue of national health in terms of -- because we knew there was going to be little sympathy for workers having in their personal own health care garage what was demonized last year by baucus, but harry reid, and president obama as a cadillac. remember the debate about the
8:29 am
cadillac benefits that needed to be taxed to restrain the contribution they made to medical cost inflation and to raise millions of dollars? hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars to subsidize private health insurance coverage for the under and uninsured. which is the poor of this misforgetten pack. we knew then what we had through years of struggle and verizon was not a cadillac. it was a chevy. everybody should have it. if we don't universalize our demands for pension and paid time off which should be by statute, by private, if we don't find a way to beef up security, there's going tonight pity of the private sector against the public sector and different
8:30 am
sectors of the public and the private sector against each other. it's not a new phenomenon. i was going to talk radio show during the strike in 1981 in boston. and got a call from an auto workers in framing him, the gm plant there which is no more. he was out raged because those patco people sit there and screened all day and wanted a four day workweek and a wage increase and they wanted early retirement. they were ranting and raving, don't they know the line speed, we don't have that. thank you very much. there you go. early, the uaw comes out against the strike. this was one dumb auto builder. because when you are diss somebody else's struggle in that way, you are going to be next. he was next. and his brothers and sisters
8:31 am
were next throughout the auto industry. would be, we have to pity the people that are a rung or two down, we have rooting for them to slide down as well. which benefits no one as we know. carrie? >> steve, i wanted to broaden out. we have wars in the labor movement. could we talk about the international labor movement and the fabulous work that you do at folks in columbia? >> let's talk about international womens day. i don't want to neglect the fact that 10,000 women call center workers at t-mobile with help from cwa and counterpart in germany trying to use international womens day as a basis for solidarity, aimed at winning some kind of organizing rights agreement at what is now
8:32 am
100% union wireless company, t-mobile. the parent company is heavily unionized in germany. this is an example of cross border, not exactly bargain to organize, but certainly a leverage campaign where we are looking to the stronger partner aboard of the germany tell workers union to put pressure on the company to stop the kind of harassment and interference that's made it very hard for t-mobile workers to organize. the other program that carrie is referring to is called union to union. which some regions have pursued for ten or 12 years now. in my old cwa district one in the northeast. we developed in 2002 a partnership with the columbian public sector union. and through voluntary contributions from 60-70 locals every year since then have raised 10 to $12,000.
8:33 am
we have had an experience of changes between the union and this group and activist up here. larry cohen, the president of the union confronted the previous in a meeting with the afl delegation a year or two ago around the continuing violation of workers rights in columbia. again, i think the lesson of that model program is the bottom up is worker to worker, it's rank and file, or not relying on national endowment money to finance the partnership. i will say the solidarity center has been very heful in very -- very helpful. carrie was one the members to help get it off of the ground. >> that's really bottom up. >> not a lot of money. but it's not a mandatory assessment. they have to care enough about this program, it has to have had
8:34 am
members that have met the columbia trade unions to be put on tour and done some joint work fight the free trade, fighting the columbia which like the wars in iraq and afghanistan drain billions of dollars, tax dollars out of this country that could go much more profitably to filling some of the real and imagined budget deficits that we hear about in wisconsin, ohio, indiana, and on down the line. which reminds me, brother mark who was here, along with bob mullencamp and others they are leaders against the war. perhaps we could sand out the labor against the war flier. somebody. yes. on the table. i want to recommend the chart on the back of this flier. you know, we need to reframe the debate about what we need to do to protect public jobs and services. right now, you know, the limits
8:35 am
of the labor proposals seems to be tax the rich tax reform very much needed. we don't have a strong enough push for single payer which would achieve enormous savings and take the pressure off of the bargaining that we have to do in the private and public sector. but as that flier points out, you know, you really want to deal with this problem of the fiscal crisis in the public sector, you have to recapture the kind of money that has been squandered on the two wars in direct spending close to $1 trillion over the last eight or nine years. i think it's sad that those of us in our generation cohorts, include myself in this group, who came out of the anti-war movement of the '60s and who ended up as the president of the cwa and sciu and unit and here and are in prominent positions in other unions and certainly brother trumka have not taken
8:36 am
the kind of continuing strong stand on the need to cut the pentagon budget and reorder or national priorities and shift this tax spending in the kind of directions that would save jobs, improve public services, and make life better for people in the country. they need to do that. i think there's incentive in favor. it's a mystery to me what they are afraid of. i did a piece a couple of weeks ago that a lot of people liked about the labor movement. guy who represented a union with lots of folks doing military work bravely advocated the economic conversion, campaigned for nuclear disarmament and continually argued with his own members about the need to end our dependence on the production of armaments. brother bob? >> you know, i wanted to mention with the military stuff. >> you didn't get up. >> well, at the risk, i see larry hanley back here. larry is the new president of
8:37 am
atu. at the risk of embarrassing him, he started a program inside that the atu to discuss the military budget. and you can't solve mass transit problems if you have all of this military stuff and it takes a lot of guts. if you do it, members response to it. >> i want to raise something different though than what you asked me about. i was in madison, and one the ways that we thought -- obviously, it's a teachable moment, it's a learnable moment; right? and for myself -- i asked myself this question and other trade unions asked me the question. and friends of mine who are not in the labor movement and don't know [bleep] about the labor movement asked me this question. how did you get to this question and situation and get so weak?
8:38 am
>> what happened on our watch. >> yeah. i mean how did we get here? i think we have a lot -- i think we have some good answers to that. mostly globalization, productivity and technology productivity and the destruction of labor movement. but there's another one that we -- i was on some talk shows, radio talk shows and at meetings and stuff in wisconsin. and it seems to me that we also have to not just talk about these plaques of what's happening, but treat them as symptoms. and what's the cause of the symptoms? you know, if you are nervous, you know, you'll try to figure out what is actually going on; right? and one of the things that i think we have not done well in the labor movement is try to figure that out. and look. if we don't talk about what's
8:39 am
really behind all of this, i don't think we can correct this and move in a different direction. look, everyone in the terms nows all of the terms and phrases. neoliberal, whatever you want to call it, it's real. and if we don't talk about that as a set of ideas that's -- that has really resulted in this mess that we're in, it's not just the trade union movement, but for all of us, all americans, i think we miss it. let me just -- i just -- in simple terms, i was on these talk shows and i'd say okay. what's really going on here? let me tell a story and then let's -- and then let's think about what's going on in wisconsin? it's a free market that solves all problems.
8:40 am
therefore anything that gets in the way of the free market is bad. right? therefore, we have to -- government gets in the way. so we have to cut taxes. we have to eliminate government. we have to therefore deregulate. if there's anything left that's any good, we have to provetize -- privatize it. there's something else that gets in the way, called unions, we so we have to eliminate them. that's it, isn't it? it's a set -- it's a whole thing that fits together. then you say hello, what's happening in wisconsin? they are not just eliminating unions, but privatizing and around the country.
8:41 am
et cetera. i feel like, steve, i want to thank you for the book which i haven't read and i won't ask you to give it to me free, i'll buy it. for you -- >> better move quick, they may not have enough. >> oh. second edition. but provoking the conversation because i think we have to get describing and talking about what's doing on and really explain what's really behind all of that. and the institutional labor movement really does not talk in these terms. >> yup. >> i don't see how we solve any of this unless we pull it all together and step back and say, whoa. there's really something big here. and it all fits together and it explains it all. we better explain to people walking around that capitol in madison, this is what it's about
8:42 am
and everywhere else, or we can't rebuild, you know, the voice of working people. >> i think you are right on target. we are obviously all enthusiastic about what we hoped, you know, could have developed in the summer of 2009 when the right wing populism of the tea party. when is our side going to rally and mobilize. there was a little bit with the one nation march, but not with this kind of degree of density and mass participation. i would agree that has to be bolstered longer term by the kind of education that makes the most of this teachable moment. you know, i'm going to be headed down soon on the book peddling tour to hang out with the united association of labor leaders and
8:43 am
the leadership of the group. i know labor educators also are frustrated by the fact that with the shrinking constituency, continuing pressure to focus on the nuts and bolts of day to day union work and contract administration, the kind of big picture popular economics training that bill fletcher tried to introduce when he was the educate director under sweeney, there seems to be less and less time for it. if we don't get back to more traditional forms and more fundamentally forms of labor education, political education about the system. people may continue to be confused as you say about the root cause of what the onslaught they are facing every day on the job and in bargaining fights like the one in madison. >> yeah, it's not like labor education. it's so much a part of what is
8:44 am
governing the country now. by the way, in popular education, we start out and say has anyone here ever been in a bar? [laughter] >> at a book party next to one? >> right. and there's a sting called the bar stool; right? and some of them have three legs; right? bargaining, politics, and organizing; right? but some of them have four legs. and it's called the war of ideas. we have not engaged in that, we have not explained what's really going on. i just want to -- i'm just -- this discussion is wonderful. i just step back and explain -- we have to do this work also. >> i agree. let me just second the applaud for brother hanley. people don't know the great work
8:45 am
that he did. he's the leader of the bus driver in staten island. wonderful case study in building connections and the community between public sector and the people they serve on conservative turf in the big apple. larry, along with the election of brother john samuelson in new york, they are hopefully going to change the face of those two transportation unions. john has been along with his take back our union team rebuilding that key local from the rubble of the 2005 strike which his members made a terrible price. their contract is up in january. and they are running already a very active contract campaign with a lot of attention to how to enlist the strap hangers, the users of the boston subway system as allies. i want to get back quickly to question the david reyes that we need to address, you know,
8:46 am
political action. and it's, you know, an endless puzzle and problematic one for unions trying to find forms of independent political action that will put more pressure on the democrats from the left. you know, certainly we have to realize the limits of the kind of muddled bipartisanship that we've seen some unions pursue whether they have decided. it was the worst example. the way you are going to teach the democrats a lesson is by shoveling more money in the direction of the republicans. you know, it was in the disgrace in 2004, 2005, sciu gave the republicans governor's association over half a million. helped elect the current governor indiana who's attacks on workers rights in the public sector and now the private sector become a model for what the more recently elected gop
8:47 am
governors have been trying to get away with in ohio and wisconsin. as recently as the most recent cycle, sciu gave another $200,000 to the governor's association. haley barbour, proprietor, i don't know what any union would expect to get any places those kinds of bets. this week's issue of the nation has a article about the very active and strong and hopefully successful single theyer campaign in vermont. it describes the role of unions in supporting it. the critical roll played by the workers and paid by independent political action in forcing the democrats to do what they have in any other state. they are doing what they are doing on the state level to extent it's possible, as fast as
8:48 am
it's possible. because the strong democratic majority in both the houses of the legislature himself have to deal with viable political formation from the left. aggressive party in vermont has members of the house and now elected a state senator, and have an independent socialist u.s. senator bernie sanders who's been an important part and they are long in the state's largest city. unless you have a formation like that, that has been campaigning in the case of bernie, this is not some new idea that the democrats just came up with in this session of the legislature. their tendency is going to tend to drift to the center and right. you ended up with the mishmash that came out of the congress and we could have gotten more and better and something that would have put us on the road hopefully a more inclusive and cost effective and less wasteful
8:49 am
social insurance. keep an eye on vermont. the real lesson of it is if we build the al tern tiff -- alternatives, we can make them more accountable. any final thoughts. yes, here? >> one more question. if i can ask you, steve, to take one more question, and before we break up tonight, folks, i would like to announce that busboys and poets have started a new labor series. we -- [applause] >> thank you so much. we would like to draw more people into the american labor movement. this has felt like kind of internal discussion in many ways. we want to draw new folks in. so we are doing that discussion the first week of each month. look on our web site at you can see information there about the series. we are going to take a final question. >> hopefully april 4th, this can be a venue where the connection
8:50 am
can be made between the sacrifice of martin luther king and the garbage workers strike. april 4th has declared to be the day of action. hopefully there will be an event here as well. >> my name is thomas. i'm one the founders of the movement, you may have read about it somewhere around. we are inspireded -- >> direction action. inspired by the protest in the past nine days. free bank of america actions have been shut down. i'll keep it brief. my question is i haven't read your book. i just picked it up. you speak labor and civil wars. what are the role of our ennies in -- enemies are in creating the civil wars and exacerbating the civil wars? >> good question. i think clearly the greatest obstacle union space to grow to
8:51 am
revival is the external forces of the power of the corporate class, the campaign of the extermination that's been waged against unions in the private sector that's now spreading in the public sector, the aiding and abetting of this by the proported friends in the democratic party. you know, it's a very complicated dance. and i think we've seen it play out in very distressing waying in kaiser until california. it's a company that's been lauded as a model, for labor management partnering, respect for corporate rights. they gave it the eleanor roosevelt human rights. if you look at kaiser's track record of unfair labor practices, it's abominable. they have often behaved like a
8:52 am
company union in the last year there. sciu has include the massive violation of workers. they voted to change unions last year. the rv, slow moving and dysfunctional as always issued the major unfair labor practice complaint. filed for 10 j injunction that kaiser just settled, paying workers $2 million at kaiser in southern california, money that was owed to them under the old contract which kaiser refused to keep in effect, while the new bargaining representative, the expression of free choice was renegotiating the contract terms. when an employee like this that has been awarded and tauted and praised for good behavior, we need to find ways to hold it accountable. there are 24 or 25 other unions in the kaiser partnership. most much smaller than sciu, or
8:53 am
other unions outside of it, in addition to nuhw, including the california nurses, nnu. but even these partnership unions can go bad. and we've seen some examples of that with xerox, which now operates call centers and aggressive with cwa. i don't think we is rest on our laurels. if you think the relationships build on partnership principals are worth pursuing, everybody ought to be calling employees like kaiser out around this kind of well documented pattern of unfair labor practice. which actually started at kaiser in 2005, when they busted the call center workers campaign, a nonpartnership union and because the employer only wanted to deal with partnership and the unions didn't stick up with the call center workers employee free choice and exercise of their
8:54 am
right to form and join a union of their choosing, we saw a desert, a failure to get a first contract and, in fact, the beginnings of the kind of behavior, misbehavior by kaiser that has become really pronounced over the last 12 months to 18 months in california. so i want to thank everybody for coming. if you can't get a book tonight, go to a hey market-related web site. thank you again, pamela, for hosting. >> we're going to bring a table up front. thank you. i'm sorry. we're going to bring a table up front so steve can sign some books here. if you give us a minute to get that set up, i'm sure he wouldn't mind signing some books here tonight. >> visit to watch any of the programs that you see here online.
8:55 am
type the author or the search title and click research. you can also share anything that you see on and clicking share. booktv streams live with top nonfiction books and authors. >> what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> well, what i've read recently is a wonderful book that i wrote. it's called "the speech" i reread it. you know what, it's a good book that fills with filibusters in december, talking about very, very bad agreement reached by the president republicans on extending bush's tax breaks on the very wealthy. and also goes into some details in this country on why it's collapsing and also talks about the growing inequality and what it means to our considerate.
8:56 am
-- country. that's self-advertising. i did reread it. it's a another book that i liked, "third world america" by arianna huffington. it's a very readable book. she's a good writer. she touches on the trends that we've seen for a number of years in terms of our physical infrastructure, in terms of education, in terms of health care, that frightly if we do not reverse, this is for a point, we are going to end up looking for a third world country. and a friend of mine came back last year from china. he flew into the united states. while he was waiting for a plane, he was sitting on the floor, he was crowded, plane was delayed, and he was wondering which was the third world country, united states or china? a lot of ominous trends moving
8:57 am
us forward people without health care, growing gap between the rich and everybody else, and dominance of big money interest and wall street and i think arianna's point is we've got to get our act together before we lose the trends so we become the great nations that we can. another issue -- another book that i'm reading right now is a book about the life of somebody that i have known for a number of years. i'd say he was a good friend. but i've known him for a lot of years, that's willie nelson. the book called "willie nelson and the epic life." it's not the most readable book in the world. i think what joe does is give us the name of everybody in the world who had anything to do with willie nelson. but given the fact that willie nelson is one of the more --
8:58 am
he's clearly one the great entertainers of our time. and he's really iconic and a unique type of individual. because of who he is. and his entertainment qualities in vermont where i've seen him a number of times all over the country. we brings together just a huge range of people. most singers will appeal to this group of people, or that group of people. really brings him altogether. i think that has a lot to do with his personality, his decency as a human being. he's a strong man and strong supporter of rural america. if people are interested about learning about the life of a guy that was born in arkansas, migrated to texas, he worked in the cotton fields, you know, he grew up very, very poor.
8:59 am
and he has a unique tie, i think, to working americans today. so willie is, you know, -- i'm a big fan of his. this is a good book which talks about his life. last book which is, you know, not -- it's pretty interesting actually. the topic might be considered to be -- it's a book called "the financial crisis" that was put together by the commission that congress established to look at the causes of the financial crisis movement on wall viet and -- wall street and how they ended up bring us to the place where we are right now, the worst recession in this country since the great depression. this is -- it's tough reason. because what you are seeing is, you know, the incredible recklessness of dishonesty from these people. you know, producing worthless


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on